BETHANY WOMEN HOST TOP-RANKED THOMAS MORE SATURDAY
Feb. 10 - BETHANY, W.Va. –For the first time in school history, the Bethany College women’s basketball team will play the top-ranked team in Division III when the Bison host #1 Thomas More Saturday afternoon at Hummel Field House in a 2 p.m. tip-off.
The Bison (11-11, 6-7) have already played one nationally-ranked opponent this week and suffered an 85-48 loss at #17 Saint Vincent Wednesday night. Bethany fell behind by 10 at halftime and scored only 20 points in the second half, as the Bearcats pulled away. Juniors Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) and Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) both scored 12 in the loss, which snapped BC’s four-game road winning streak, and junior Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia) pulled down 11 rebounds to help Bethany hold a 49-42 advantage on the glass.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Bethany will recognize their lone senior Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio). The 5-8 guard/forward has battled through injuries during her four-year tenure, but still played in 79 games and is averaging 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals in her career. Harris has been playing her best basketball this season as her career winds down. In her last five games, she is totaling 10.6 points and 7.8 boards a game and shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Harris and the entire Bison squad will need to raise their games another level if they are to pull off the upset Saturday. The first time the teams squared off Jan. 12, the Saints seized control from the outset, racing out to 21-point halftime lead and coasting to a 68-42 triumph. It was a season-low in points for Bethany, who shot just 26 percent in the loss. Junior Kelly Zogran (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) came off the bench to score a team-high eight points, while Thomas More had 12 different players score, led by Chelsea Tolliver with 12 and Katie Kees with 10.
The Saints (22-0, 13-0) rolled to their 11th win this season by 20+ points Wednesday by blitzing Waynesburg 93-65. Thomas More sprinted to a 51-21 halftime lead and never looked back, as 13 different players hit the scorebook. Center Nicole Dickman pumped in 21 markers to lead the way and was joined in double digits by Allison Long with 12 and Tolliver with 11. The Saints have thrived since becoming the #1 team, as since ascending to the top spot in the national polls Jan. 24, Thomas More has won their last five games by an average of 27.2 points.
The main reason for the Saints’ dominance this year is in their defense, as they are holding teams to 49.8 points per game and are ranked fourth in the country in field goal percentage defense at 31.5. Tolliver is the top scorer with 13.4 points per game, with Dickman right behind at 13.2 and she is also hauling down 7.3 rebounds per game. Complimenting Dickman down low is the 6-1 Kees, who is posting 5.1 points, 7.4 boards and 2.4 blocked shots per game.